LuckyGunner: How to Reload a Revolver

SW-Model-625-with-two-speedloaders

Not a wheelgun fan myself, but that does not mean I lack for appreciation of those who run them really well. An admitted personal weakness has been getting the reloads down pat. With my muscle memory dedicated entirely to box-magazine fed handguns, the individual rounds or clips just have not agreed with me.

LuckyGunner has stepped in to assist with the basics with a great video. Its below or hit up their LuckyGunner lounge for additional information. 

Even if you’ve found a reloading technique that works well for you most of the time, there are still plenty of ways to fumble a revolver reload. Most of the issues you’ll run into are related to incomplete extraction of the spent cartridges. In the video, I mentioned that this is one of the weakness of the FBI technique, but it can happen with the other techniques as well. It’s also pretty common to have problems with getting all of the fresh cartridges to drop completely into the chambers. If even one of the shells is just slightly peeking out of its chamber, the cylinder won’t close and you’ll have to fix the issue before you can fire.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • TCB

    Good technique, however, cylinder may get too hot and cause a fumble or distraction.

    • Zebra Dun

      DANG! I believe having a HOT revolver from combat shooting means you are seriously in deep Kimchee!

  • Paul O.

    I’m a number 3 guy. It’s the technique most like a semi-auto reload and the gun never leaves the shooting hand. Most importantly, gravity is your friend with a revolver…and lots of practice and competition.

    • JaredN

      I use a support hand reload as well. But, honestly, you don’t need much gravity when using decent speedloaders (aka, not HKS) and a full-length extractor. Nor do you need to smack the ejector rod with your palm — I’ve tried this and all it does for me is result in circular cuts in my palm. I press the ejector with the index finger of my support hand, with the revolver barrel only slightly above horizontal. Then I insert the rounds from the speedloader with the barrel only slightly below horizontal. I just don’t see the need (or the point), for making these huge movements of the revolver, first up and then down.

      I spent about a year competing with my Model 66 in IDPA SSR, so I’ve done a few reloads under some stress. The key is, as you say, practice. I made up some dummy rounds and spent hours in my basement practicing reloads.

      One of the things that he neglects to mention is that revolvers get hot during extended firing. The FBI reload will result in you burning your support hand on the forcing cone. A support hand reload keeps your support hand away from the forcing cone.

      Some of the things I didn’t like about strong hand reloads were 1) the time required to properly reacquire my grip, and 2), the wrist contortions required to line up the speedloader in my right hand with the cylinder on the left side of the revolver. Since the cylinder is on the left side of the revolver, why not just use my left hand, which is conveniently on the same side of the revolver?

      That said, there is some clown named Jerry who uses a strong side reload and some folks claim he does them pretty well 😉

      • Giolli Joker

        That is just a myth: thefirearmblog. com/blog/2014/04/25/revolver-16-rds-4-01-secs-fast/
        😀

      • Paul O.

        Yup, then there’s Jerry, lots of good techniques on his YouTube channel.

  • Frank Jaeger

    if one way to fumble a revolver reload are related to incomplete extraction of the spent
    cartridges, then why most modern revolver do not have auto-ejector installed?

    • SD3

      On many models with <3" barrels, the extractor rod ain't long enough to fully extract, so you'll need to do the 'dick-dance' while you're pounding on it. I bought the 4" 686+, specifically so the extractor rod would be long enough to get the job jon.

      • Geo

        That and the cylinder might be rough, try getting it honed.

    • TFB Reader

      The cases might partially stick if the chambers are really clean, in addition to the other reasons mentioned.

      • TFB Reader

        I meant aren’t

    • TFB Reader

      The LG post mentions grips getting in the way of speed loaders, but I don’t think that it mentions grips causing problems with one of the five or six cases, which will bump into the grip and not drop free. The cutout in the grip is designed to handle this, but one of the cases can still hit the grip if the cylinder is rotated in just the wrong place.

    • Zebra Dun

      I don’t know, for me one empty always gets stuck against the grip or against my hand. The inside near the frame.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Why the hell is the FBI still allowing people to carry guns that only hold six bullets when Joe Serial Killer is packing a goddamn M-60 and a Stinger missile?

    • JaredN

      1) No serial killer is carrying 20+ lb, almost 4′ long machine gun.
      2) No serial killer is carrying a Stinger missile.
      3) In fact, I’m not aware of a murder in the US with a machine gun. The vast majority of murders in the US are committed with handguns, not long guns of any kind.
      4) The FBI issues Glocks, not revolvers. They haven’t issued revolvers in decades.
      5) I don’t believe that the FBI still allows agents to carry revolvers.
      6) The FBI developed this reloading technique many decades ago (1950s?). So it is still referred to as the FBI method.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        For your information I am a serial killer and I never leave the house without my Stinger missile.

        • SD3

          “Serial killers” are a myth, created & perpetuated by the Illuminati.

          • I’m a cereal killer, I see a bowl of cereal, and I “kill it”

          • Don Ward

            You’re… GREAT!

  • ruinator

    Great vid. Thanks for the write up!

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    FBI reload for me, never had a problem with it. Of course, all my revolvers have a full length extractors, I really dislike the short ones.

  • Bill

    For every perceived problem with revolvers I can find one with autoloaders. For every perceived problem with autoloaders I can find one with revolvers. People want to pigeonhole one as better than the other when in fact they are just different. A good shooter with one will beat a bad shooter with the other every time. Technologically, Ive seen both function perfectly the vast majority of times, and both barf at the least opportune moments, but problems with either are usually traced to the nut that holds the butt.

    And let’s not over-complicate things. A revolver has a relatively simple manual of arms, but that doesn’t sell magazines or videos. If I can do it, anybody can. Ive carried both the entirety of my career, but if tomorrow the Chief tells me that I can only carry one type, I won’t bat an eye. I will take some dry-fire and range time to make sure I’m dialed in, but I do that routinely anyway.

    Obviously, I’m a huge believer in Musashi’s philosophy that a warrior shouldn’t have a favorite weapon.

    • salty

      exactly, if your gonna carry one gun ya might as well carry 3…revolver, autoloader, maybe a bigger autoloader?

      first rule is have a gun? if youre gonna have 1 might as well have 3!

      • Bill

        You have a spare tire in your vehicle, don’t you?

  • Zebra Dun

    Actually the revolver user does his job with one of six shots, then he has all the time in the world to re-load.
    It’s a joke Bubba.
    Frankly even with speed loaders a revolver is somewhat hard to re-load.
    The easy revolver to reload is the single action, shoot two load one.

  • Dan

    None of these techniques translate well for southpaw shooters like me, since almost all revolvers are designed for righties. I know Charter Arms has a gun for lefties but I don’t like the quality of the brand.

    • JSmath

      Funny, the last time I was shooting my revolver, I found myself wishing it was “left-handed” so I could reload it the way I wanted to.

  • Will

    Watch Jerry Miculek. His muscle memory revolver technique will blow you out of the water.

  • gunsandrockets

    Right now I’m imagining a 9mm DA top-break revolver with moon clips!

  • Don Ward

    Thank you TFB for featuring more revolver stuff. As a daily revolver carrier I think the biggest hang up that folks have with the weapon is that they view it as simply a semi-automatic pistol that holds less bullets.

    • Don Ward

      Watching the video again, I’ll say that I do the Number 4 although I didn’t know this was a “technique” or that it was invented by Ayoob. (Now I know) It just seemed the more natural approach to me when one needed a slow-and-steady-and-sure approach. While I have speed loaders, I also carry “speed strips” which admittedly reload much slower but are more practical in terms of being more compact for carrying and are useful in terms of “topping” off the load, not that that scenario would ever realistically happen in an actual firefight. I like them just because it beats having loose rounds in your pocket.

  • Shooting with a purpose.

    I prefer Ayoob’s method. Wheel guns are under-rated in our “modern” gun culture. That said they do require specific skills and practice.